Pit bull bites Rock Hill boy, but dog not seized. York County shelter too crowded

A 5-year-old Rock Hill boy was bitten in the face by a pit bull Monday night, but animal control did not seize the dog because the York County animal shelter is filled beyond capacity, officials said.

The child was attacked around 6:45 p.m. at a home on Arch Drive, according to Rock Hill police. The boy was treated by Piedmont Medical Center EMS on scene, officers said.

York County Animal Control officers then arrived.

Those officials told the victims that the county animal shelter in York, next-door to the Moss Justice Center courthouse, was past capacity and the dog could not be taken into county custody.

The dog was quarantined at the owner’s home, county officials and police said.

That caged quarantine lasts for 10 days and includes a check to see if the dog shows any sign of rabies, said Lt. Michael Chavis of the Rock Hill Police Department.

The owner of the dog was not cited, Chavis said.

The York County Animal Shelter has 72 kennels for full-size dogs, said Trish Startup, spokesperson for York County. However, the shelter currently has 125 dogs there, Startup said.

The large population at the county animal shelter is partially because of recent confiscations of dogs, officials said.

In June, county animal control officials and police seized dozens of dogs in separate incidents in Clover and McConnells. More than 40 pit bulls from McConnells were seized as part of an alleged dog fighting ring.

Of those dogs being housed by York County at the animal shelter Tuesday, 66 of the dogs are confiscated animals, Startup said.

“Spring and summer we are always at full population,” said Bobbie Comer, York County Animal Control Supervisor. “But because of the confiscates, we are at about double our capacity.”

Many of the animals have to be kept at the shelter for evidence reasons in pending court cases, Comer said.

The need for room and foster placement of animals was so great in June after the large-scale confiscations that county animal officials took to Facebook to ask for foster homes for adoptable dogs.

Startup, the county spokesperson, said the shelter has received many adoptions and foster placements, but more are needed.

“Rescue groups and the community continue to support the shelter through donations, fostering, and adoptions, which has made a huge impact in supporting life saving measures at our shelter,” Startup said.

Comer said adoptions, foster care and placement with animal rescues has so far allowed shelter officials to avoid any plan to increase euthanizing animals at the shelter.

“We have no plan to increase euthanization,” Comer said. “That is always a last resort.”

York County animal control laws allow supervised confinement of an animal that has bitten a person at a location not run by the county, Startup said. The dog’s owner signed an agreement with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control allowing owner confinement, Startup said.

The York County rules for quarantine at home rather than a shelter state:

“The animal control officer, in conjunction with the health department, shall arrange for the supervised confinement of any dog or cat which has bitten a person. The confinement may be on the premises of the owner if the owner will sign a DHEC agreement assuming total responsibility for the safe confinement of the pet or other animal or the confinement may be at the county animal shelter with the current impoundment and boarding fees charged, or the dog or cat may be confined at a private animal shelter or a veterinary hospital at the owner’s expense;

Any dog or cat which has bitten a person must be confined for a period of at least ten days. The health department or the animal control officer shall be permitted by the owner or keeper of the dog or cat to examine the same at any time and daily if desired within the ten-day period of confinement to determine whether the animal shows symptoms of rabies. No person shall obstruct or interfere with the animal control officer or the health department in making the examination.”

For information about animal foster care or adoption, call York County Animal Control at 803-792-2577, or visit www.yorkcountygov.com/228/Animal-Control.

Related stories from Rock Hill Herald